Moments after Will Smith released a video apology to Chris Rock that addressed some of the biggest questions that were still lingering in the wake of his Oscars slap, some of the cynical members of the Hollywood community started to ask, “Why now?” It has been months since Smith stole focus away from the Academy Awards by approaching Rock on stage at the Oscars and slapping him in response to a tasteless joke made at Jada Pinkett Smith’s expense. And while Smith has released a few brief statements, this longer apology appeared to come out of nowhere, and clarified very little. So, why did Smith decide to release this now? Well, Jada Pinkett Smith might have something to do with this.
As expected, Will Smith appeared remorseful in the video, and spoke directly to some of the concerns many had in the wake of the incident. He admitted that his relationship with Tony Rock is probably decimated, but that he’s working to bring himself back to a level of balance both personally and professionally. Now, sources are telling US Weekly that the decision to record and release the video wasn’t Will’s at all. Rather, it was Jada’s. The outlet reports that an insider told them:
The Smiths are correct in understanding that this story isn’t going anywhere. Chris Rock is constantly having to weigh in on the consequences of The Slap as he continues to perform stand up, and even his love life is under the Hollywood radar because of the heat Will Smith brought on the comedian. No one is moving on, and the spotlight is going to stay on Will Smith for the foreseeable future, especially if and when he tries to release a movie… and one with Oscar aspirations.
That’s where director Antoine Fuqua’s Emancipation comes into play. The upcoming action thriller casts Smith as a runaway slave staying two steps ahead of the plantation owners he’s escaped from. Deeply cynical industry analysts wondered if Will Smith was releasing a public apology in order to better position Emancipation for an awards push, especially after Martin Scorseses’s Killers of the Flower Moon moved to 2023. That’s just as calculated as Jada telling WIll to apologize because the scandal is hanging over her Red Table conversations. Is that the best reason to apologize?
The ramifications of The Slap continue to reverberate, and I’m not certain the video apology moved the needle in one direction or the other. The endgame for this controversy seems unclear, so we’ll continue to cover each step as all of the players continue to muddle their way through the mess.
Sean O’Connell is a journalist and CinemaBlend’s Managing Editor. He's frequently found on Twitter at @Sean_OConnell. ReelBlend cohost. A movie junkie who's Infatuated with comic-book films. Helped get the Snyder Cut released, then wrote a book about it.
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